September 16, 2007

An Emmy for Bury My Heart

The winner:Television Movie

  • “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO
  • “Inside the Twin Towers,” Discovery Channel
    “Longford,” HBO
    “The Ron Clark Story,” TNT
    “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy,” Lifetime
    The losers:Supporting Actor, Mini-Series or Movie

  • Thomas Haden Church, “Broken Trail,” AMC
  • August Schellenberg, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO
    Aidan Quinn, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO

    Supporting Actress, Mini-Series or Movie

  • Judy Davis, “The Starter Wife,” USA
  • Anna Paquin, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO

    Director, Mini-Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

  • Philip Martin, “Prime Suspect: The Final Act,” PBS
  • Yves Simoneau, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO

    Writing, Mini-Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

  • Frank Deasy, “Prime Suspect: The Final Act,” PBS
  • Daniel Giat, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” HBO
    Comment:  Bury My Heart probably won for best television movie because it had good performances and it looked good. It also may have won because it was an HBO prestige project from a known player (Dick Wolf). Awards voters often don't see every nominee; they go with the director, producer, or studio with the proven track record.

    They especially like films with serious subjects--e.g., Gandhi, The English Patient, Crash--whether they're truly the best or not. What someone wrote about the Oscars also applies to the Emmys and to Bury My Heart:There are obvious biases in the selection of Best Picture winners by the Academy. ... Serious dramas or social-problem films with weighty themes, bio-pictures (inspired by real-life individuals or events), or films with literary pretensions are much more likely to be nominated (and win) than "popcorn" movies. Action-adventures, suspense-thrillers, Westerns, and comedies are mostly overlooked (although there are exceptions), as are independent productions and children's films. The glossy, large-scale epic productions with big budgets (of various genres) often win the Best Picture prize.For that matter, Bury My Heart may have won because it was the best of a mediocre bunch in a weak field. I never even heard of the other nominees.

    Bury My Heart didn't win for best writing because it wasn't that well-written. Most critics said it was more of a dutiful lesson than a stirring drama. About the only scene they praised was Sitting Bull's exchange with Colonel Miles--and that was totally bogus.

    What the critics said (or would've said) if they knew their history is that the screenplay was riddled with mistakes and stereotypes. As I pointed out in Bury My Heart's Bias Against Indians. The critics and Emmy voters may have sensed the mistakes and stereotypes intuitively even if they didn't understand them intellectually.

    I haven't seen the seventh Prime Suspect yet, but I have seen the first six. If the last show was anything like the previous ones, it undoubtedly deserved the "best writing" award. As any good critic could tell you, the Prime Suspect series is in a class above Bury My Heart. It isn't even close.


    Anonymous said...

    Blech. I can't believe this dreck won.

    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    Carole must be German and therefore used a German term. Contrapuntally, the critics' favorite for the Emmy for Best Made For TV Movie was LONGFORD, also an HBO film. But BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE indeed did win the singularly most important award for which it was nominated.
    Thus, writerfella won't tell you that he told you so. He won't. He won't.
    -- THE HELL HE WON'T! --
    All Best
    Russ Bates

    Rob said...

    Fortunately, I already explained why Bury My Heart won for best picture but not best screenplay. It was mainly because of the performances and the pageantry, not because of the writing.

    In other words, I told you why the critics and I lambasted the movie's storytelling. They and I were right.

    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    Perhaps. But the fact that the Emmy was awarded means that someone's judgment was wrong. Whose opinion was wrong, therefore? Just asking, as reality cannot be changed by opinions...
    All Best
    Russ Bates

    Rob said...

    I don't know if the Emmy voters' judgment was wrong, since I didn't see the other four nominees for best picture. I do know that Bury My Heart's screenplay was good but not great. It didn't deserve to win and so it didn't.